Video: The Stavig Letters

The stories of Lars Stavig, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1876, and his brother Knut, who stayed behind in Norway.

Based on the reader’s theater play by Dr. Wayne S. Knutson, this original South Dakota Public Broadcasting documentary tells the stories of Lars Stavig, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1876, and his brother Knut, who stayed behind in Norway. The two kept in touch through letters sent back and forth over the course of 30 years. Those letters help describe the Norwegian immigrant experience from the perspectives of both countries.

Linked from YouTube channel SDPB South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Be sure to check out their other videos.

2 thoughts on “Video: The Stavig Letters

  • April 4, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I saw this play presented life at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, where my husband was a Professor of American History. When we arrived on campus was not long after Lawrence Stavig’s term as President. I’m assuming the letters were written by relatives of his. The story reminds me of my own family’s story of being the first settlers on the prairie north of Brookings, SD, near a town named Astoria. My grandfather, who emigrated with his parents and an older sister, had brothers who mostly got farms in the area, but one of them was a store owner in the early years of Astoria.

    Another brother married a woman who could never accommodate to the new life, could not learn English, and eventually got her husband to return with their family to Norway.

    My own grandfather walked from the farm to Canton South Dakota (100 miles or so) each term to attend the Augustana Academy. From there he went to Minneapolis to attend what was then the Augsburg Seminary and became a pastor. He then sent his youngest brother to St. Olaf and the seminary also.

    They are all gone now, of course — they arrived in South Dakota in 1873 when land opened up there after spending some years in SW Minnesota in Houston County. So, yes, the family was typical in many ways, but there was more than one “typical.”

    • April 5, 2019 at 2:26 pm

      Hello Irene

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for taking the time to comment.

      It was really interesting to learn a little bit about your family’s history. I sure hope you write it down for future generations. If you would like to share more of this interesting story I am happy to present it on my blog.


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